Effect of Anti-Osteoporotic Treatments on Circulating and Bone MicroRNA Patterns in Osteopenic ZDF Rats

Int J Mol Sci. 2022 Jun 10;23(12):6534. doi: 10.3390/ijms23126534.


Bone fragility is an adverse outcome of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). The underlying molecular mechanisms have, however, remained largely unknown. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short non-coding RNAs that control gene expression in health and disease states. The aim of this study was to investigate the genome-wide regulation of miRNAs in T2DM bone disease by analyzing serum and bone tissue samples from a well-established rat model of T2DM, the Zucker Diabetic Fatty (ZDF) model. We performed small RNA-sequencing analysis to detect dysregulated miRNAs in the serum and ulna bone of the ZDF model under placebo and also under anti-sclerostin, PTH, and insulin treatments. The dysregulated circulating miRNAs were investigated for their cell-type enrichment to identify putative donor cells and were used to construct gene target networks. Our results show that unique sets of miRNAs are dysregulated in the serum (n = 12, FDR < 0.2) and bone tissue (n = 34, FDR < 0.2) of ZDF rats. Insulin treatment was found to induce a strong dysregulation of circulating miRNAs which are mainly involved in metabolism, thereby restoring seven circulating miRNAs in the ZDF model to normal levels. The effects of anti-sclerostin treatment on serum miRNA levels were weaker, but affected miRNAs were shown to be enriched in bone tissue. PTH treatment did not produce any effect on circulating or bone miRNAs in the ZDF rats. Altogether, this study provides the first comprehensive insights into the dysregulation of bone and serum miRNAs in the context of T2DM and the effect of insulin, PTH, and anti-sclerostin treatments on circulating miRNAs.

Keywords: ZDF; biomarker; circulating microRNA; microRNA; next-generation sequencing; osteoporosis; type 2 diabetes.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone and Bones / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / metabolism
  • Insulin
  • MicroRNAs*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Zucker


  • Insulin
  • MicroRNAs